2012 Honorees

Mr. Gail Schaeffer Miller

Gail Miller’s childhood dream was to be a pilot in the Army Air Corps. After graduating from high school, he went to Peru State Teacher’s College in Nebraska to take the necessary background course work to pass the entrance exam to get into West Point. While at Peru, he learned about the aircraft industry and borrowed $500 to go to Kansas City, MO, to enroll in an aeronautics course. In lieu of being drafted, he enlisted in the Army in 1941. After completing the Army classification battery, he was classified as Air Corps with selection as pilot, navigator, bombardier, gunner or maintenance fields. He chose navigation as his career field and took navigator’s training at Mather Air Field in Sacramento, CA. While in Sacramento he met his future wife, Sally Rae Munson. After Mather and with the rank of 2nd Lt he went on to Biggs Army Air Field at El Paso, TX to pick up an air crew for crew training. The crew went to Topeka, KS, to get a B-24 aircraft and headed to the Pacific Theater in September, 1942. While in the Pacific Theater he was assigned to the 380th Bomb Group. While on a mission and during take-off from a New Guinea airfield, his airplane lost an engine and crashed. Only five of the crew survived the crash. Gail spent 6 weeks in a hospital in Brisbane, Australia, and then returned to Darwin to complete his tour of duty. He would receive the Purple Heart and was promoted to Captain. In 1945, he returned home and was stationed at Brady, TX, Sherman, TX and Vance Air Field in Enid, OK, for pilot training. He would transition from active to reserve duty in 1947. After leaving active duty in 1947, Gail returned to Peru State College where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and School Administration. He went on to Peabody College in Nashville, TN, for a Master’s in Psychology and School Administration and completed the post graduate course work for a Doctorate in Psychology at Vanderbilt University. In 1951, Gail went to work for the American Institute of Research (AIR) doing private contract work for the Department of Defense. It was here Gail began developing a test program for standardization board use in the Strategic Air Command. He began his civil service career in 1953 when the AIR contract ended by Joining the Military Air Transport Service, 1707th Air Transport Wing, as an Educational Specialist. Here he developed training programs for the crews of the C-124, SA-16, and the C-118 aircraft. His superior performance led to his promotion as head of the Training Branch at West Palm Beach Air Force Base. In 1959, he transferred with the wing to Tinker Air Force Base, where he would be promoted to Chief of Training for the 443rd Military Airlift Wing. In 1969, the 443rd was transferred to Altus Air Force Base in Altus, OK, where he established the crew training programs for the C-5 and C-141 aircraft. The major accomplishments of his training career were standardized programs for selection of specific aircrew assignments and standardized protocols for training aircrew members in the Military Airlift Command aircraft. Gail received numerous Outstanding Performance Awards and Sustained Superior Performance Awards throughout his years of service. Gail achieved the rank of Colonel prior to retiring from the Air Force Reserves and Civil Service in May, 1989, culminating forty-eight years of service to his country. He has maintained a long-time interest in education, libraries and related activities. He was a delegate to the first Oklahoma Governor’s Conference on libraries in 1978 where he was selected as one of seven Oklahoma delegates to attend the White House Conference on Libraries the following year. Gail also has a long history of meritorious service in the Altus Lions Club. In 1989, he was awarded a Melvin Jones Fellowship, the highest achievement award possible in Lionism. Gail has been a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Altus since 1969 and has served in leadership positions on most of the church committees and organizations. Mr. Gail Miller, for having served our country with honor and distinction, we the 57th Alumni Association bestow upon you an honorary lifetime membership in our association.